This study examines the extent to which a company's fair trade reputation, and the fit between this reputation and the company's communicated fair trade message, influences consumer scepticism and positive electronic word-of-mouth. The results of two experiments show that a previous fair trade reputation has a direct and indirect effect, via consumer brand identification, on consumer scepticism. Moreover, the fit between the reputation and the communicated message seems to affect scepticism only when the communicated message is perceived as realistic. In industries with poor fair trade reputations (Study 1), the fit does not seem to have an effect on scepticism, while the fit influences scepticism in industries with a certain reputation history for fair trade (Study 2). Scepticism and consumer brand identification play an important mediating role in the relation among reputation, fit and consumers' electronic word-of-mouth intentions. Therefore, we conclude that communicating fair trade initiatives not only can be a rewarding effort but also seems to be a delicate matter.
- consumer-brand identification
- electronic word-of-mouth
- Fair trade reputation